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The Battle of Enterprise vs. Individual Productivity

The battle of enterprise vs. individual productivity affects every enterprise business whether you realize it or not.

Obviously the goal of each of these business is to be as productive as possible at both levels. You need your individual employees to be productive in their daily responsibilities if your overall business is going to be productive. And you’d assume with how much more workers are able to get done in a day than they once were able to with access to all these different tech tools that overall productivity is increasing as well—but it’s not.

Data from the United States Department of Labor shows that even with the technology boom, overall labor productivity has only grown 1-2% annually.

What does this mean for you? Well, it means you likely need to shift your productivity focus and how you manage it. Most executives believe enterprise productivity is simply the sum of individual employee productivity. We’ve got some surprising news for you—it’s not!

There’s a difference. And understanding these differences and how you can and need to foster both productivity types within your company matters to your company’s profitability.

Individual Productivity

Individual productivity has different meanings to different people. To one it means getting a ton of stuff done in a timely manner. To others, it means setting and accomplishing personal goals. To us, it’s a combination of the two. Individual productivity in the workplace means completing tasks that put you closer to accomplishing your set goals in a timely manner and helps bring more balance and simplicity to your worklife.

Every company should encourage and make individual productivity possible by providing the right working environment and technology. From the C-suite down to the lowest employee on the totem pole, achieving personal productivity means employees have greater focus and are able to produce more results faster.

Enterprise Productivity

Enterprise productivity is also referred to as organizational productivity and enterprise performance. And while the different terms are known and used, a precise definition isn’t. Like with individual productivity, organizational definitions vary. Some organizations say enterprise productivity revolves around efficiency and working smarter, while others claim it means lasting value that’s produced when you properly balance increased profits with effective use of assets.

It doesn’t really matter what definition you prefer. What matters is asking yourself this one question: What work drives value at my company?

Your employees may be highly productive individually, but unless they’re spending their time doing the daily work that actually drives value to your company, their productive efforts really aren’t of value to your company. Don’t be like this billion-dollar tech company that found out 50% of their employee time had been spent engaging with partners—$200 million of annual employee time—and this time had zero correlation with their enterprise value. That’s a lot of time and money they wasted for several years.

How to Foster Both

A focus on individual productivity is a worthy and needed goal because improved productivity means you have highly-engaged and happy employees, while a focus on enterprise productivity is what makes enterprise businesses competitive and sustainable.

Company executives are constantly pressured to magnify workplace productivity and growth while optimizing their resources. So don’t think of this as a battle between the two. It’s clear that your focus needs to be on fostering both individual and enterprise productivity to give you a much-needed competitive advantage in today’s highly-competitive business world.

So where do you start? What steps do you take to encourage both types of productivity?

Step 1: Shift to an organizational mindset.

Being at the top of the company, your attitudes affect everyone else’s. Stop thinking about productivity at the individual level. Heck, stop thinking about it at a team level. You need an organizational mindset, and you need to get every employee in every department to shift from their personal productivity mindset to an organizational one as well.

It’s human nature to be a little selfish and only care about what tasks you get done in a day or what needs to happen for your specific team or department to meet its goals. Show your employees how an organizational mentality is going to benefit them individually as well as the overall company.

Step 2: Utilize tools that allow for total visibility.

The right tools always help you get the job done (and do it better). And in this case, you need tools that will provide complete visibility into the daily work that’s being done and whether or not value is being created.

You need a project management system and a way to track employee time, among other tools, so you and everyone else has a better, clearer understanding of your company’s day-to-day activities. This visibility will have an extensive impact on your business structure and processes.

Step 3: Have effective communication.

The need for visibility leads us to having effective communication. Clear and effective communication allows for greater visibility. If employees are regularly reporting to department heads and teams are holding regular meetings to discuss progress on projects, then everyone is staying up-to-date and in the know on what’s happening around them.

Invest in collaboration tools, like real-time communication apps and meeting management software, to facilitate better teamwork and team unity, which leads to better individual and enterprise productivity.

You’ll know your efforts have succeeded when the gains of individual productivity actually add up to your enterprise-level ones.

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